After doing some research lately on winter sowing, a gardening technique I have heard multiple gardeners discuss. .I decided that it sounded intriguing enough to try out. While my big boys were helping our friend Lane with the destruction and re-struction of a house. .and Miss Thing was asleep. .This nine year old needed something to do. .so we went to the greenhouse to get creative.
Winter sowing is the process of planting mini-greenhouses with seeds. .and setting them outside for the remainder of the winter. The point is to get seedlings by mimicking mother nature. .in a sheltered kind of fashion. There are LOTS of ways it can be done. .here's what we did.
Because I had smashed all of our other milk cartons to recycle, I only found 2 that were ready to use.(now I have 2 more ready, waiting to be planted.) We sliced the jugs all the way around, leaving a small intact piece where the handle is. Cut some drainage holes in the bottom. .added about 4 inches of soil (we used Miracle grow potting mix. .but some people just dig dirt out of their gardens). Wet it down. Sprinkled with seeds, covered with a bit more soil, and sprinkled with water again. Then we folded the top back down, taped it shut with duct tape. .and set it in a sunny spot. Be sure to leave the milk cap off for ventilation. .or you will bake your seeds. We also used some plastic planters and then covered them with a layer of 4 mil plastic construction sheeting (like a dropcloth, but a little thicker) picked up at the local lumber yard. I also cut some ventilation slits in the plastic sheeting.
We started with 8 types of seed. The theory is that they will germinate on time because it is nice and warm in the little greenhouse climate. They are also getting cold at night too. .so they are hardier at planting time than other plants. This will save tons of room in my greenhouse if it works. Seeds like morning glory and other hard coated seeds don't need to be soaked or nicked before planting like this. .the freeze and thaw action softens them just like mother nature would. I plan to start most of my flowers this way. .and have been able to include some varieties that I would never have tried in the greenhouse due to space. I'm also going to try a couple varieties that I haven't had good luck starting myself to see if it works.
We put the flats on the south side of the greenhouse. .which is both out of the way, and sunny/warm. .so it should work well there, without being an eyesore. I can hardly wait until spring to see how well it will work out!!
In other gardening news, this girl is now sneaking out to the greenhouse to "water" and eat chives!! I caught her last weekend while she was telling me that she had "watered" the greenhouse. .all by herself. The scent of chives on her breath was a pretty good giveaway to her REAL motives!! We also enjoyed some Swiss chard in our lettuce salad last weekend. It's such a beautiful leafy green packed full of goodness!
I have decided that these are one of the cherry tomato varieties, because of the way that they are coming on in a cluster of fruit.
GonSS. .did the sweet baby tomatoes get this big?? They appear to be bigger than grocery store cherry tomatoes. .but there are a ton of them on this plant (which you can see for yourself) I had planted a black tomato. .determinate variety. .but it really never got this much fruit on it at once. This plant will yet surprise us as to which variety it is!
I sowed some cabbage. .just cause. . a few weeks ago. .and the seedlings are off and running. I was curious as to whether they would be a good specimen for a greenhouse. The first 2 years I grew some lettuce, tomatoes and peppers for consumption during the winter season. This year I find myself ready to try some new things. This is an evolving process. .and easy to see why there are so many books on the subject of greenhouse gardening. The little pot to the left is some leftover flat leafed parsley. I noted a couple of seeds sprouting the first of the week. I sowed these seeds in addition to some others back in September. .but due to an extra hot day. .and the fact that my ventilating things weren't working right. .the temperatures got so hot, I think they baked the seeds. .since NOTHING germinated at that time.
Grant and I sowed some lettuce mixes from Johnny's seeds a little over a week ago. .in 3 days some of the sprouts were up. Next weekend we should start another few flats. The lettuce we produce certainly is a far cry from feeding our family. .but it DOES make for some nice variety of our salad when we mix the baby greens with a head of iceberg lettuce from the store, and is cheaper than buying bags of baby mixed greens. .which I love in my salads.
I got seeds ordered from a few different catalogs last weekend. .as they arrive. .I plan to do some more winter sowing jugs. As I understand, this can be an ongoing process through the months of January and February. I hope I can report back with some success in March!! The best thing about this project is that you don't need anything special to do a little seed starting of your own!! I'd love to know if anyone else has ever tried this out. .and how it worked for you! I'd also love to know if anyone else will sign up to experiment with me the remaining months of winter!
It's almost Friday!!